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Some Virginia sites under threat


Date published: 2/8/2013

RICHMOND

--The Southern Environmental Law Center is out with its latest endangered places in the Southeast and there are some familiar names among the top 10.

The list released Thursday includes places in six states that the environmental group said face the threat of intrusive development, such as proposed highways and energy projects. It includes, for instance, Southside Virginia and what it calls the continuing threat of uranium mining; and a proposed timber sale within view of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, N.C. Some 472 acres of forest could be lost, the SELC said.

Other entries include two unlined coal ash ponds near Myrtle Beach, S.C., that are leaking high levels of arsenic; and plans for reservoirs in the Atlanta area that the SELC says are not needed and threaten water supplies downstream.

The other entries on the endangered list, the fifth annual edition, and an SELC description of the threats are:

Alabama: Talladega National Forest, which faces pressure to allow a drilling process known as fracking, which the SELC said threatens drinking water supplies and could bring industrial operations to camping and hiking areas.

North Carolina: Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, threatened by plans to widen U.S. 64, destroying 300 acres of wetland and habitat for the last wild population of red wolves; Cape Fear Basin, a cement plant proposed near Wilmington that would destroy 1,000 acres of wetlands.

Tennessee: GoForth Creek Canyon on the Ocoee Scenic Byway, a new highway through the Cherokee National Forest.

Virginia: A proposed $224 million bypass that would scar the city that is home to the University of Virginia; and the Coalfields Expressway through the rural southwest region of the state.

The SELC's Nat Mund, the group's legislative director, said there is no reason states should have to choose "between a healthy environment and a healthy economy" when investments in clean energy can achieve both.